I recently travelled to Jersey for a wedding and had the pleasure of staying in an apartment right on the beachfront at St. Brelade’s Bay. Having spent two and a half days exploring this small slice of Jersey I wanted to share some tips on what to expect whilst you are there.
How long do I need in St Brelade’s Bay?
As long as you want, really! Can anyone have too much beach? One day would have been enough if we weren’t so happy chilling out and exploring the rocks for the entire stay. Allow a minimum of one day to chill here before exploring more of Jersey during your stay.
Where can I stay?
We stayed in Beau Rivage. We had a top floor self catering apartment consisting of two bedrooms (one double room, one family room with a double and additional single), a large kitchen and living room, and three bathrooms. The living room and family bedroom faced out onto the beach which offered incredible panoramic views of the bay. Downstairs is a private balcony for residents, and on the ground floor there is a lounge, pool table, and restaurant/bar with indoor and outdoor seating. This Beau Rivage apartment was cheap as chips and with all the extra cash we saved we were able to eat out for breakfast lunch and dinner.
If you are looking for a different place to stay, perhaps somewhere that is not self catering, look online for your best options as there are other hotels in the area.
Where can I eat whilst there?
Stand on the beach with your back to the sea and look left. You will see the Crab Shack and the Oyster box there if you are looking for seafood. Don’t fancy fish? A 30 second walk from the crab shack is a little place called Mid Bay Cafe where you can grab a snack and a coffee or tea to go. Next along is Pizza Express, and another 1 minute walk will bring you to the Beau Bistro and Bar which is where we ate for most of our meals as I’m not a fish lover. The portions are HUGE so order conservatively!
What can I do on the beach?
There is a cute trinkets/souvenir shop next to the Beau Rivage where you can buy all of your beach toys, beach shoes and general Jersey related memorabilia. Kit yourself out with bats and balls for a fun time on the beach. Next to this shop is a lovely little ice cream shop for you to enjoy.
Swimming and water sports are permitted at St. Brelade’s Bay so get your swimming costumes out! The sand is gorgeous with a mix of soft fluffy sand and compact sand so get building sandcastles… If you prefer the rocks, walk over to the huge cliffs and delve into the many rockpools that form at low tide. Be safe, be careful of slippery surfaces, and follow safety signage.
Are there any other places of interest?
Churchill Memorial Park – This beautiful park is unmissable thanks to it’s well kept lawn and bright display of flowers and towering palms. Don’t miss this lovely little park just behind the sea front shops and restaurants.
Visit the Parish Church of St. Brelade – Take a stroll up to the church and go inside when allowed to do so. This enchanting church is small but very pretty.
Yes. Yes. And yes. This place makes for a lovely day trip or a perfect base during your stay. The people are friendly, the water is warm, and walks are picturesque. I cannot wait to go back to see what more Jersey has to offer.
A colleague of mine. and fellow Peru lover, had recommended PeruHop following her trip to the incredible country.
Whilst I am usually the “you can go your own way” public transport kind of gal, I was also aware that I was attempting to see the whole of Peru (well as much as possible) in just over two weeks – just under half the amount of time that she had spent exploring the diverse country.
Expect to be fully immersed in Peruvian culture
With such little time, but so much we wanted to see and do, we figured that the sensible option was to book with PeruHop – the seemingly smooth sailing company, for ease of travel.
Planning our route
After trawling the PeruHop website for which bus route we wanted to take we decided on the ‘Full South to Cusco’ option. The payment was quick, and when weighing up how much it would have cost us to take separate buses, flights, and taxi’s we were satisfied that the cost justified the journey.
The optional yet included cultural bus options, whereby the PeruHop gang whisk you away on a mini tour or take you for dinner en route, only further affirmed our ‘bang for your buck’ rationale.
One of the excursions included a free tour to learn about the creation of Pisco
The dashboard and PeruHop interface online is basic (in a good way). Your itinerary is laid out really clearly and you can change your pick up locations, dates, and times really easily.
Wanting to have as stress-free of an experience as possible, we organised most of our pick-up locations and hostels before arriving in Peru.
Tip; If you change your mind about where you want to stay, or be picked up from, you can always opt for editing your choices closer to the time which is great for rogue wanderers.
Hostel Pick-Up Points
My partner and I aren’t what you call “party people” so for us we were a little worried about the recommended hostel lists provided as pick up locations by PeruHop as we had heard that many of them were quite rowdy.
Instead of plucking any hostel from their lists uninformed, we did a little research into each hostel settling on some of the quieter and less popular options.Whilst you can book a hostel that’s not available on the pick-up list, we decided that we simply couldn’t be bothered with lugging our backpacks to and from pick up points, hence the choice of PeruHop’s.
Bananas hostel in Huaccachina was B-E-A Beauuutifulll
The Overnight Bus
During the two weeks we spent two nights on the PeruHop bus. We considered this another justification as to why this was worth the money. We would have paid around £20-30 for a private room anyway so this was definitely worth the money -that is, if we had a decent sleep whilst aboard.
Luckily enough the bus ride was smooth and we managed to sleep for a decent enough proportion of the night. The seats were
Arrivals and Departures
Having spent time in various places around the world I am all too aware that not everyone operates with the same efficiency in mind. With this open minded attitude I anticipated long delays, slow drop-offs, and late pick-ups. Yet, to my surprise, the bus was always pretty much on time and always where they said they would be.
Getting that free T-shirt
If You take the route that we took you will end up in Cusco. From the Main Square the office can be found by walking up the narrow alley until you eventually turn left.
Upon arriving at the office you will be welcomed by a friendly PeruHop member of staff. Then you be asked to complete a short survey about your PeruHop experience, (make sure you take note of the hosts names as you will be asked to provide feedback on your favourite guides).
So they complete its time to try on some shirts and select the comfiest size!
Is PeruHop for you?
For us, PeruHop Offered us an incredible service that made it easy to see everything we wanted to see and more in the diverse land of Peru.
Along the way we met many travellers that had used public transport for the bulk of their journey, but had decided to give this service a try to finish up their trip comfortably. The resounding reviews seemed to be very positive.
I’d seen on the website that many people had made lots of friends during their trips. Whilst this wasn’t our main aim when choosing PeruHop, we found ourselves heading to the market with a lovely Canadian couple, adding friends on Instagram, and joking around with people on the bus when they reclined the chairs just a little bit too far.
The decision of whether to stay in a hotel or not whilst on holiday is not usually at the forefront of many people’s minds. Most holiday goers will book their flights and then the top recommended hotel without even a second thought as to where else they could stay.
Why are so many of the population failing to remember that there are alternative, cheaper, more immersive and entertaining options available. Or maybe they just haven’t been informed yet. Well in that case, let’s begin.
Hotels: What are you paying extra for? Absolutely nothing.
If you enjoy late night strolls around a resort, listening to a British expat performing Whitney Houston Covers, and fighting other holiday makers for the sun lounger closest to the pool then hotels are definitely for you. Hotels are notoriously safer, and offer heightened security for families with private lockable rooms with en-suits and balcony areas. Great! But this is not the say that the same quality can’t be found elsewhere.
To offer some tangible evidence of what Hotels offer lets look at ibis hotels.
Whilst staying in an ibis hotel I couldn’t fault the breakfast service, the room, or anything else for that matter really. Although, the common area was less of a common area and more of a standard entrance area into the hotel.
Ibis hotels make good on the buffet breakfast and provide you with all your breakfasty needs from cereals to continental meats you’ve probably never thought to eat for breakfast.
This is all well and good you might say, but why oh why am I paying £50 – £100 (or more) a night. One person, one room, one bed, one breakfast, and you are asking for £60. Call me a cheapskate (because I am) but I say this pricing is totally unnecessary!
To be completely fair to ibis hotels, I searched the going rates across 10 countries in Europe, even ‘cheap’ countries and the prices were pretty similar across the board. Ibis hotels aren’t the only offenders of high prices for little in return, Premier Inn, Travel Lodge, Best Western, Hilton, Marriott… You name it, it was all a little too overpriced for me.
In my opinion, if anyone is paying £50-£80 per night, this is the least you should be asking for:
Sound Proof Walls
Breakfast and Dinner
A fun, free, functioning common room
Outdoor seating areas
Comfortable bed and en-suit
Tea and Coffee in your room
If your paying over £80 for a hotel room then firstly – what on earth are you thinking? And secondly, there had better be a huge heated pool and a sauna with onsite creche for the kiddies to play in.
Hostels: It’s not all doom and gloom
Once you understand that not all hostels are as grubby as they seem in the movies your holiday savings will increase, and your holiday experience will change forever.
Hostels are available in almost every country in the world, and at a fraction of the price of booking a hotel you’d be silly not to consider it. Some of the nicest places I have ever stayed have been hostels costing no more than £13 a night WITH breakfast included. For more information about what staying in a hostel is really like read Myth Busting: Hotels – To stay or not to Stay.
So, let’s address 3 of the main issues that people talk about when I suggest that they stay in a hostel.
1- “I don’t want to stay with 10 other people with no privacy or bathroom to myself.”
2- “It won’t be a safe environment for the kids to sleep in or to be able to walk around in.”
3- “I’m not sleeping in a dirty room where the sheets are gross and the bathroom smells”
I am happy to report that for the most part I have found none of this hearsay to be true. Read
Overall I have found hostels to be more welcoming, friendly, cleaner, entertaining, and helpful than any hotels I have previously stayed in. Private rooms are always a little pricier, but you get what you pay for after all. Booking is easy with sites like Hostelworld and HostelBookers offering a transparent efficient service to users.
Home Stays: Living like a local
Staying in someone else’s home can feel daunting, especially if the family are still in the vicinity during your visit. Unless you had selfish plans to trash the place there’s no reason to feel nervous at all, provided that you have done your research beforehand.
Me with my incredible host family in Nicaragua. 3 months together and we were part of the family.
Whilst in Vietnam we stayed in a host home – accidentally. The family had advertised their home on a hostel site. We were pleasantly surprised as, luckily, we got on well with the family. They were knowledgeable and friendly, and we learnt a lot from the experience.
Whilst some host family / home stays are advertised on the usual hostel sites your best bet is to head over to sites such as Homestay.com or simply type ‘host family stay’ into Google and check out the many country specific results available.
Another option is the increasingly popular Airbnb which offers a wide variety of options depending on your needs. You can rent a whole home, a room, or shared accommodation. The majority of places you find on Airbnb will be self catering, so you will miss out on the luxury meals you are used to at the hotel, but with thousands of yummy restaurants around every corner why not sample the real local cuisine in the streets. This also cuts out all of the moaning about the lack of diversity on the hotel menu.
When booking with Airbnb be sure to tick the ‘whole house’ option if you don’t fancy meeting the homeowners each day. Another mistake we made whilst in Paris was not ticking this. We didn’t mind ultimately, but we did find it strange that the owner was still at the house. That is, until we realised we hadn’t ticked the all important ‘home alone’ button.
Despite any booking errors we may have faced in the past, staying with a host family is always a very enriching experience. I’ll admit that it’s more of a solo traveller / couples travel option, but if children are welcome then why not just book the whole house instead for a fun family experience?
Will you take the plunge?
I think it’s clear to see that I am a hostel kind of girl. Be it a private room, or a communal room, it’s all good to me. Don’t forget to read my blog ‘Myth Busting: Hotels – To stay or not to Stay‘ for a real insight into why I view Hostels as being the best.
Next time you book your accommodation for your holiday perhaps you may take a step back and consider just how much you could save to spend on enjoying expensive foods or activities, rather than on the £100 room that you could have got for £20 elsewhere.
After having spent a few months exploring the popular, and not so popular, sights of Thailand and Vietnam it’s time to help you all in choosing where you want to go. Whilst I’ve only included a few reviews, we travelled more of the countries and I would strongly recommend you do too!
Whilst in both countries, the big kid on the left and I purposely chose to visit some destinations that weren’t in your average itinerary. The destinations on this list can be visited in depth if you allow a month and or so in each country.
Below you can find the following mini reviews.
Thailand: – *Ayutthaya – *Bangkok – *Chiang Mai – *Chiang Rai – *Chumphon – *Lopburi – *Phuket
Vietnam: – *Dalat – *Ha Long Bay – *Ho Chi Minh – *Hôi An – *Phong Nha
Before jumping aboard the “couples travel” train I was quite against the idea of exploring with anyone other than myself. Why exactly? I’m not quite sure. I guess there is a common misconception that travelling alone means that you have more freedom of choice. I have learnt from travelling with a partner that this is (thankfully) not necessarily true, and that travelling with a partner can actually cause you to end up going to places you love that you had you been alone wouldn’t otherwise have gone to.
Here is what traveling with him has taught me:
1) You should always, always, always pack an extra day bag. Our first trip away together was to Rome. It was a dream for the following reasons. Whilst we explored… A) I carried my stuff. B) He carried his stuff. The end.
By the second trip away together however, we had obviously got comfortable with each other because well, let’s just say that if I have to carry his stuff because he forgot to pack a spare bag AGAIN then there will be trouble.
Now every time we plan a trip and start packing my first conversation with him is “have you packed a spare bag” to which his answer is usually “na, I’ll just carry my stuff in my hands”… (what he means is, “no i’ll butter you up and you’ll be carrying my stuff before you know it”
Dead set against going to Disney I moaned as he pressured me into coming with him. (By pressured I mean that he bought tickets and I thought meh it’s free why not.) When we arrived at Disney Land I absolutely transformed into a huge child. It became less about him geeking out, and more about me wanting to have a photo taken with Mickey Mouse and watch the princess show. Our time there was nothing short of FUN. Possibly the most fun ever.
The Olympic Stadium also hadn’t appealed to me. Being the supportive girlfriend that I am I said yes. It’s only fair that you both get to see things you enjoy right? Although it wasn’t quite as thrilling as Disney World I had to admit that the stadium was an impressive site, and I left there happy to have seen it in the flesh.
Disney For Life
3) You will become a pro at masking your embarrassment (usually to do with his bad habits) and, at lying to other travellers to cover your partners back. I won’t go into too much detail here, but when your sharing a dorm in a hostel and your other half blocks the toilet, in one of the coolest and cleanest hostels ever, because “the plumbing is different than England”… you will find yourself pretending you know absolutely nothing about it. “Yea I know it’s gross, it was like that when we got here” you will say to the desperate, tired travellers who really need to pee but can’t. Your boyfriend will smile at you in solidarity, and you will never speak of it again. Until the next blockage. (Or you decide to write about it in your blog) – sorry Irfan ❤️
4) You will always end up playing the role of 1) the head of logistics 2) linguistic guide and, 3) chief ideas generator.
“I’m taking you somewhere” he will say beaming from ear to ear. You will arrive in the country of his choice and await his instructions on where to go from the airport. Only to be greeted with “how are we getting to the hostel?”
This truly is when you realise how much you like them, because if you didn’t you would probably just walk away and make your own way there without them.
Being the loving person that you are you will get your phone out, google maps the data right out of your phone, walk up to random strangers and ask for directions in your best GCSE level French – all whilst he tags along behind you until a solution is found.
Note that he WILL make the trip excellent. He just won’t make the journey from the plane to the hostel an easy process.
Sometimes getting lost leads to the Louvre!
5) You learn how to live with them.
For couples that don’t already live together, travelling with a partner is an excellent test of whether or not you would survive/ put up with/ work well living together. Whether you are travelling for a weekend, a month, or longer seeing how you both cope in stressful situations is a great indication of how you will function as time goes on.
Lucky for us we have found that travelling together is no issue as long as you give each other space sometimes. Whilst on our travels we have met every kind of couple. The ‘glued at the hips’, the ‘I’ll go my way and they’ll go theirs’, the ‘this relationship only works at homes’… We have seen it all.
I’m not saying that we are ‘couple of the year’ (although we come pretty close) but one thing we have definitely learnt is that when you respect each others boundaries and let each other do their own thing, travelling together is easy and fun.
Tips: Exploring Thailand? had enough of staying in dorm rooms? Treat both yourselves to a private villa when in Thailand by staying Villa Varich in Chumphon.
Vietnam: Separate motorbikes, same shared experience.
Getting in: Arriving in Croatia was a complicated mess of passport control, unoccupied help desks and tourists eager to get into the country before the other tourists. Luckily the airport is small and getting lost in it would require considerable effort on your part. If you are staying in or near the Old Town then work your way (unaided by no one other than equally baffled tourists) to the bus ticket shop.
The shuttle bus takes you down the beautiful coastline from a great height. Eventually after fretting over your drivers ability to drive on the edge of a cliff you will gain an incredible view of (cue Game of Thrones music) King’s Landing!!!! – I mean, The Old Town. At 40 croation kuna for a one way ticket this is the best way to head into town from the airport.
When to go: April was a strange time of year. With not many tourists around it was great to be able to walk round without having thousands of people pushing you out of the way or photobombing every shot. In the evenings however the atmosphere in Lapad, Gruz and other surrounding areas was non existent. The locals were all at home and, the tourists seemed to have gone to bed. Perhaps summer is the better time to experience night life.
Money: Anything within the walls of the Old Town is expensive so we ventured a little outside of the vicinity for cheaper goods. Most places accepted Kuna and Euro. When paying with Euro we learnt to expect to receive change in a well calculated (yet highly confusing) mix of Euro and Kuna.
Getting around: Bus tickets can be purchased on the bus for 15kuna or at a ticket shop. We were tipped off that if you buy the ticket from a shop the price is 12kuna. Score! Money saved!!
The transport staff were notably miserable I’m sorry to say. We found no word of politeness from any transport staff. Whilst we knew that they owed us nothing, it was still a shock to be grunted at every time we jumped on the bus.
If you were slow entering or exiting the bus you would be either left behind or shut in the bus doors ( I was shut in the doors no fewer than two times ).
Fun Activities and things to do:
Walk the walls – If stairs are your thing then head for the walls and keep walking up. You will need to pay to do this and your fitness will need to be at a good level to get up the never ending steps. If you don’t fancy climbing your way into an asthma attack then opt for staying at ground level and following the wall around from the lower levels.
Cable Car –
How Long: Fast and Furious – If you intend to take day trips to Montenegro or Bosnia ( p.s. 1 day in Bosnia is not enough) then consider 5-6 days. If you are just intending to stay in Dubrovnik then 4 days in perfect.
Slow and Steady – If you tend to spend an hour or two a day people watching, or drinking a bottle of wine at dinner then you may want to add a day onto the fast and furious itinerary.
4 Day ITINERARY
Day 1. Arrive midday to see the old town lit up. Find somewhere on the Main Street for dinner before heading to your hotel. The further away from the main street, the cheaper the food – is a good general rule to go by.
Day 2. Grab a bus to Pile gate, walk around the back of the fortress and jump aboard the cable car. You can spend a good few hours exploring up here. Have breakfast in the restaurant before looking around the museum taking selfies and staring into the distance. Head back down before lunch and walk to the old town. You can spend the entire afternoon and evening here trekking in and out of the hidden alleys. Gasp at the Game of Thrones locations, walk the walls and marvel at the curious items in the museums. In the evening you can stay in the old town or head to Lapad for a quiet meander and a drink.
Day 3. Islands are on the itinerary for today. If you want to see a few then opt for the three island tour. A less common (and less rushed idea) is to grab a boat to Lokrum island. Lokrum is a beautiful diverse island full of peacocks and rabbits. Wear your swimming costume under our clothes if you intend to swim in the mini cove on the island. Stroll around the monastery, botanical gardens and park before scrambling through the rock pools. You can also find the Iron Throne which is somewhat of a hidden gem as there is little advertisement to suggest it is even on the island! Following your visit to Lokrum head to the old town to revisit any areas you missed on the previous day.
Day 4. If you aren’t planning any onward travel or day trips use today to take the three island tour or a day trip to Cavtat. Enjoy the Game of Thrones Scenery, the crystal blue waters and, the historic fortress. Have an incredible time in Dubrovnik.
The ultimate guide to not being an idiot when travelling. Learn from my mistakes –
1. Do not put your passport in your mouth:
Ok so I wasn’t salivating all over my passport. I promise. I wrapped my lips (not even moist) around the folded edge of my passport in an attempt to juggle two pieces of luggage and my phone. For a split second I put it in my mouth. It was either that or it would have fallen on the floor. As I approached the (not so) lovely Croatian border control I was immediately shouted at. “DON’T PUT PASSPORT IN MOUTH.” He continued … “ITS NOT NORMAL”. I will not be doing that again. In front of him.
2. Don’t joke around with Houston passport control:
“Hi” I said to a (not so) lovely border force man. “GET IN LINE” he replied… I was already in line. This was pretty much the tone of every Houston staff member I encountered there whilst in the way to Nicaragua… both times.
3. Don’t get off the bus to Bosnia during a rest stop … EVER:
Two hours into the bus journey across the border from Croatia and into Bosnia. “Ten minute break” explains the driver. So off I jump to go to the toilet (which is a 5 second walk away). I leave my passport on the bus with my bags, assured that they are in safe hands with trusted company and assured that I don’t need my possessions to pee. I walked into the available cubicle and attempted to pee whilst trying to hold the door closed with my foot and grab the toilet roll with my hand. I exit the toilet 2 minutes later. The bus has disappeared. Long story short. After a lot of swearing (and unanticipated sprinting) I make it to the bus. If it weren’t for the screaming of “STOP THE BUS” I’d probably still be Bosnia selling my clothes to get enough cash to bribe border control to let me across.
4. Don’t queue for the bus in Croatia:
As a British person I just LOVE to queue. It’s basically part of my DNA. A word of wisdom. Unless you enjoy being shut in a moving vehicles door, don’t queue. Push the pensioners and the children out of the way. Don’t feel rude because they sure as hell don’t. You have places to be.
5. Never ask the person selling the ping pong show what a ping pong show is:
In my defence, this one wasn’t my mistake. I knew exactly what a ping pong show was. My boyfriend however did not. After aimlessly walking the streets of Phuket in Thailand he turned to me and asked (in the cutest most naïve fashion) “why is everyone so obsessed with table tennis here”. HA! Bless him. I, being the supportive loving girlfriend that I am, told him to ask the next lady that offered us a show. The results. Hours of laughter on my part and on his part… embarrassment.
6. Don’t tell a City person that you hate cities – unless you’re ready for a debate;
Working in London sparks the question “so …( because everyone starts the question with the presumptuous word SO) when are you moving to the city”. If you don’t have a well prepared answer for this question that declines the offer whilst also showing your love for the city then don’t bother responding.
7. When the guy renting you a bike tells you it’s too far, believe him, and don’t Rent a bike without having ridden a bike in years for a long journey:
Yea this happened. We just wanted to go to the beach for cheaps. A mile and a half in, during what felt like the hottest summer South East Asia has ever experienced, we were regretting the bike decision. We just ended up spending what could have been a short taxi drive’s money on bottles and bottles of water.
8. Don’t say yes to a tour your not interested in / not going to understand:
Whilst in Poland my mum and I decided that the Salt Mines were a must see attraction. Eager to get on a tour we stupidly agreed to joining a Germany group rather than shopping around. Whilst the tour was interesting we spent the entire time being referred to as “THE ENGLISH” as we fell behind trying to work out what the heck was going on. If tours are not available in your language then maybe just book in advance or go back another time. Otherwise, be prepared to hear “THE ENGLISH ARE TOO SLOW” for most of your tour.
9. Never assume that the perfectly perched Vietnamese man is going to let you get away with taking his picture and wandering off:
Ok ok I admit, this was terribly rude tourism on my part. In my defence, despite the language barrier I did point to my camera and charade style ask him if it was ok. He was sitting in a rice field on top of a giant water buffalo. He nodded and I proceeded to hop off of the bike and snap away. As we tried (emphasis on tried) to walk away he grabbed my boyfriends arm. “Now ride”. Excuse me? He wanted us to ride that thing. Did I mention he was sat on a GIANT buffalo? Before we had a chance to decline we were lifted up into its back and paraded down the field before being promptly thrown off and asked for money. What a rookie mistake.
10. Never assume that people want to learn your mother tongue or that your language is more universal than it is:
I am proud to say that I do not fall into this category. I have however witnessed one too many fellow backpackers that assume or expect others to speak their language. This is not true. Whilst in Tanzania this couldn’t have been more true. Of the many people I met, not many actually found the idea of learning English appealing. And why should they? Unless it’s going to benefit them then what is the point?
11. Don’t jump off the surfboard in shallow water:
Cling onto that board for dear life or suffer the consequences of a broken toe like I did. If the water looks rocky, then it probably is. Don’t assume a broken big toe is manageable whilst backpacking either… It isn’t.
Portugal is as it has always been. Interesting, fun and friendly. From North to South, East to West there is a never ending stream of activities and sights to keep your wanderlust fulfilled.
This 1 week itinerary I have put together is based on the time we spent exploring the western edge of Portugal. This itinerary is a no nonsense GET IT DONE itinerary with room for the smallest amount of chill time.
You can easily switch the plan around, ending where we started or, starting where we ended. If you do think that you will need more “chill time” then extend your trip by a few more days where recommended.
Side accommodation note: Whilst staying in Lisbon I highly recommend staying at Sunset Destination Hostel. They have 3 hostels and you can enter any of them whenever you fancy a nap or a new chill out spot.
(One even has a cute little swimming pool and a funky dome /bar tent space)
Portugal, West Coast Wonders: 1 week Itinerary
DAY 1: Start by arriving in Lisbon. Settle into your accommodation (quickly! There is much to do!). Put your walking boots on and head for Rossio square. Spend the day here eating, drinking and sight seeing. There’s a lot to do and see here for all ages.
DAY 2: Belém – Today is a day for exploring. Spend a good half hour looking at Belém Tower, grabbing an ice cream and, wishing your house looked this good. Take a stroll around and see if you can find the huge raccoon painting. If you fancy a museum trip, walk over to the navy museum. Don’t leave Belém before you’ve spent a while walking around the family friendly gardens (Jardim de Belém and Jardim da Praça do Imperio) and visiting Jerónimos Monastery. This gothic monastery is enormous and architecturally brilliant. If you like panoramic views then walk up to Padrão dos Descobrimentos before it gets dark. Head back to Rossio Square for the evening to experience the friendly atmosphere at night.
DAY 3: Beach Day – You can’t go to Portugal and not see the beach.
The morning: If you’re looking for a great beach near Lisbon to relax and soak up the sun then Cascais is just one of the bigger sandy beaches you can head to. If you like to surf or just want to give it a try then contact Gota De Agua Surf School. These guys are brilliant teachers and will look after you ( especially if you break your toe like I did!) For lunch why not stay by the beach and sample the delights of the yummy restaurants near by.
The afternoon: The afternoon can be well spent in Almada. Take a short ride over to Almada to see the enormous statue of Christ (Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei) – when we went surfing with Gota de Agua this mini trip to Almada was included in our lessons so ask them and you may get the same trip!(if you love the beach then perhaps add another day here)
DAY 4: Sintra – Wake up early, Travel light, wear comfortable shoes and, pack water and snacks! Sintra is an incredible place to spend the day. If you have an extra day in Portugal then Sintra is worth another day. If you’re up for a climb then scale the pathway up to the Castle of the Moors, reward yourself by going inside and admiring the picturesque views and ruins. Trek back down to ground level and explore the area. Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and so much more are waiting for you!
DAY 5: Coimbra – Pack up your bags, it’s time to change base. Jump on the train to Coimbra, the home of Fado music, to spend the next day and a half roaming around the UNESCO World Heritage Site Coimbra University. Entry is cheap and you can either take an organised tour or a self guided one for a small cost. Use the rest of your day for shopping and indulging in sweet treats and souvenirs on the Main Street. Spend the night near the Main Street at a Fado House listening to incredible traditional music. Stay near the Main Street to allow for more adventure and less commuting.
DAY 6: Coimbra to Porto – Rise early and continue your exploration of Coimbra. Check out the Convent of Christ for some more gothic architecture. Stroll down the river where you’ll be greeted by an enormous Astro turf bear (Mondego Bear). Give him a hug, take a selfie and then it’s lunch.At lunch time get on the train from Coimbra City to Porto via Coimbra-B station . Your final stop.
DAY 7: Porto – Make today count. It’s your last day so do whatever will make you say “WOW”. Walk across the Dom Luis Bridge (whether it’s sunny or not) to see the river in its full glory. Then go buy a book from the Harry Potter-esque library Livraria Lello. Stare at the fine detailing on the walls of Church São Fransisco, or tour around the ever so grand Pálacio da Bolsa.
Leave Portugal feeling cultured, well informed, walked half to death and inspired to see more of the wonderful country. If you aren’t ready to go home stay another day.